cocoa peppermint cookies + melted candy cane frosting

December 19, 2012

Melted Candy Cane-Filled Cocoa Sandwich Cookies, butter me up, Brooklyn!

With the holidays in full swing, I have been busy frosting endless platters of sugar cookies, having a bit too much fun in my holiday card-making workshop, and actively conducting an extremely unofficial poll about one of the season’s most famous treats: The Candy Cane.

It all started back in July when I was just beginning to brainstorm what would come in the months ahead for holiday baking. One of the most classic December flavors – and my personal favorite – is Candy Cane but it got me thinking: do people (namely adults because I know children will consume anything containing even a pinch of sugar) actually eat candy canes? Like not the small-sized ones. And for dessert. Then my follow-up question: How do you eat it?

I wondered: Do you crack it into pieces first? Do you unwrap it from the bottom so that as you go it forms a pointed stick so sharp it could be used to punch holes in holiday gift tags? Or do you attempt to consume it from the hooked end? May I say from personal experience that this is not the most classy of options in the looks department. Especially if you are around anyone else but yourself.

candy cane heart

Then there is the problem with size. Can anyone finish off a candy cane in one single sitting? What do you do with a half-eaten candy cane? Again let’s hope your co-workers aren’t around. Say you are in the middle of banging out a few emails whilst enjoying an afternoon candy cane and then you unexpectedly get called into a meeting – what do you do? Just set it down on a napkin and let it hang out for the 30 or so odd minutes?

Lastly, it would be wrong to not mention the whole shrink-wrapped packaging element. Do candy canes even want to be enjoyed and taken seriously as a candy? Some are wrapped so impossibly tight that it makes me think not.

cocoa peppermint cookies, baked

So after collecting and organizing data and plotting the results, I have come to the conclusion that most people delight in the idea of candy canes more than consuming them. I now understand why most recipes involving candy canes call for them crushed. Or perhaps we collectively just all need to have an excuse to smash candy canes with our rolling pins and feel OK about it.

melted candy cane frosting, butter me up, Brooklyn!

This recipe is no exception and melted candy cane frosting begins with tiny bits of candy cane awesome. Bust out your rolling pin, kids! It’s time to crush away all your holiday stress and end up with delicious cookies as a result.

making sandwiches, of the cookie variety

I must also admit a small, tiny detail about this recipe. I accidentally came up with this glorious confection which I called melted candy cane frosting a whole year ago but I haven’t shared it until now. I am sorry. You should not go another minute without candy cane frosting in your life. I have no excuse other than to say the season is short and candy canes must be used only during that small window. I am pretty sure I made it in just under the wire this year as well.

Melted Candy Cane-Filled Cocoa Sandwich Cookies, butter me up, Brooklyn!

And the most important finding from my super official poll? A year is a long time to wait for melted candy cane-filled cocoa sandwich cookies to come back in to season.

Melted Candy Cane-Filled Cocoa Sandwich Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen small sandwich cookies

Inspired by tiny chocolate sparkle cookies but with a festive holiday twist!

For the cookies:
1 1/4 cups (156 grams) flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (35 grams) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
scant 1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

For the buttercream frosting:
4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, very soft
2 cups (200 grams) powdered sugar
2 medium (36 grams) candy canes*
4 tablespoons (60 ml) half and half
pure peppermint extract, to taste

Make the cookies: Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl beat the butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and extracts and beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. The dough will be quite stiff.

Wrap the dough in plastic and gently press it into a disk. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to several days. If you are pressed for time (or are perhaps like me and can not wait) you should be able to get away with chilling the dough in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough, dusting with more flour if needed, to about 1/4- to 1/8-inch thick. Use a fluted 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to stamp out as many cookies as possible and reroll the scraps as necessary. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Make the frosting: In a large bowl beat together the softened butter with about 1 cup (100 grams) powdered sugar until the butter is mostly combined into the sugar and no large pieces remain. It will look crumbly but don’t fret. Set aside while you make the candy cane cream.

Use a rolling pin (or other heavy kitchen item) to finely crush the candy canes in a heavy-duty plastic bag. You should get about 1/4 cup of crushed candy and you want the pieces to be very small so they melt quickly and evenly. Combine the crushed candy cane and half and half in a small saucepan. Slowly heat the mixture over low heat  - whisking constantly – until all the candy cane bits have melted. Be careful not the let the mixture boil. The half and half should just be warm enough so that it melts the candy and when the they have melted completely, turn off the heat.

With the beaters running slowly pour the candy cane cream into the butter and powdered sugar mixture and whip until combined. Add the remaining cup of powdered sugar and beat for several minutes, scraping the bowl as needed, until the frosting is smooth and spreadable. Taste the frosting and add a few drops of peppermint extract if you feel it needs more mint zing! (I added about 1/8 teaspoon of extract.)

Assemble the sandwich cookies: Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with wide tip (I couldn’t find mine and used just the coupler) and pipe a small amount of frosting on the bottom side of half of the cookies. Place the remaining cookies on top and gently squeeze each sandwich together to spread the filling to the edges.

Filled cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for several days.

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*Candy canes come in every which size and shape so I know the qualifier of “two medium candy canes” is not the most helpful. The ones I used came from a standard box of twelve (which are sold at most grocery and drug stores here in the US) and were about 6 inches long. That said, all that really matters is that in the end you have about 1/4 cup of finely crushed canes. If you do happen to have any extra candy cane dust might I suggest stirring them into the finished buttercream for crunchy little bits of candy cane goodness? It may make these cookies extra super duper awesome.

crushed candy canes

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue/the view from great island December 19, 2012 at 9:33 pm

OK, these are amazing. I am so using that frosting on other things, too. And I’m heading out now to HOARD candy canes so I’ll be prepared.

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Sylvie December 19, 2012 at 10:15 pm

These look amazing, so cute and the combination sounds like it they would taste as good as they look.

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heyenjoy December 19, 2012 at 11:04 pm

These are so cute color and shape. I wonder the taste of them, I think it is fun to bite it. :D

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Kate December 20, 2012 at 8:51 am

As a huge fan of chocolate and peppermint combined, I shall definitely be trying these!

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Crystal Clark December 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm

I’m not a huge fan of baked chocolate goods but the melted candy cane frosting does look awesome! I can’t wait to try it out on a different cookie. :)
I personally like to eat the candy cane from the bottom and make a sharp stick. Or, barely bite the end so it flakes off in tiny pieces which you can chew. My mom always gets us the huge fat candy canes; there is no possible way to eat that in one sitting. lol!

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Jeanne December 20, 2012 at 6:24 pm

I do recall a certain someone eating all of the remaining candy canes in our apartment four years ago. He still enjoys a few ‘canes every season.

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Carole Neice December 20, 2012 at 6:55 pm

These look so fabulously pretty and perfect and pink and yummy. I just happened to have a bowl of crushed candy canes on my kitchen counter that I delighted in crushing with the side of a small hammer. God that was fun. I want to try making these little lovlies but they NEVER EVER look that good so can you just bring some over to my house Lillie?!!

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Jean Sullivan December 22, 2012 at 1:07 am

Loved this cookie, even if it was a second:-)

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pam December 23, 2012 at 8:55 am

Thank you for the frosting idea!! I used chocolate peppermint candy canes in my frosting and topped my cupcakes ; Choc cupcakes with Trader Joe’s candy cane Jo-Jo’s {crushed candy canes in their oreo type cookies}. The frosting was a perfect match for my cupcake flavor! They were a hit :)

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Lillie December 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm

My pleasure, Pam! Your cupcakes sound wonderful and happy to hear the frosting was a hit!

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bookgirl173 December 23, 2012 at 8:40 pm

The only thing my girls (4 & 2) love more than the color pink (my own mother’s revenge on me for being such a tomboy) and candy canes is chocolate – you have officially made me a Xmas eve hero! Can’t wait for them to try these tomorrow night. I had to add lots of extra sugar to my frosting to get it the right consistency, but no matter ’cause it tastes divoon! Used peppermint oil purchased at King Arthur Flour – yum! Didn’t mean to tell you my life story, but I’m feely sappy tonight and felt compelled to thank you for all the wonderful recipes you’ve shared this year – it’s been a real joy making them for my family. We all thank you and wish you a very happy holiday season!

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Lillie December 27, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Thank you for your kind words! It means so much to know that you have been enjoying and baking along with me here at BMUB. :) I hope your girls enjoyed the cookies and that you had a very merry holiday! Lots more baked goods to come in 2013!

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Zuzana December 28, 2012 at 5:26 am

It looks so good! I have to try it.

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ramya December 30, 2012 at 10:41 pm

i luv all your recipes but i have one request for you.in some recipes you have given “gm” measurements along with cup measurements can you please give “gm” measurements for all your recipes.i will be very happy & thankful if you do so

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Lillie December 31, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Thank you Ramya! I would love to include the gram measurements for every recipe – and I hope to go through the archives and update them all when time allows! Thank you for reading and happy baking!

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Kerry January 5, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Hi, Lillie… I loved these, but my frosting came out more the consistency of a glaze than a filling. I had to add probably another 3/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar to get it to firm up – otherwise it would have just slid out of the cookies. Any suggestions?

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Lillie January 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Hi Kerry, I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed the cookies! Hmm..it could be that the temperature in your kitchen is on the warm side or the half and half was a bit too warm, and because of factors like these, I usually treat most frosting recipes as a bit of a guide. I am always adding more sugar or liquid until I get the right consistency. :) Or sometimes I pop the bowl in the fridge for 20-30 minutes until it firms up. I hope in the end the frosting tasted minty and delicious!

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Ellie@Fit for the Soul January 17, 2013 at 10:22 pm

These are so cute and yummy looking!!! You’re a baking master indeed.

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Alzy January 18, 2013 at 5:12 am

Hey Lillie, I don’t live in America so I don’t know what “half & half” is/don’t think it’s available where I live! :S could you please tell me a substitute?? Thanku!

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Lillie January 18, 2013 at 8:04 am

Of course, you could use heavy cream or milk. Half and half is a blend of the two and just what I usually have on hand for my coffee-drinking. :) Happy baking!

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Elizabeth January 31, 2013 at 12:14 am

I just made these today and they were so incredible! Thank you so much for the recipe. They reminded me of Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s!

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Juliana December 11, 2013 at 10:16 am

I have made these a few times. They are wonderful and so pretty!!!

However, my cookies are never as pronounced in the fluted design as yours. I’ve tried a few different cookie cutters and even tried cutting them out after I baked the rolled out dough.

What brand/kind of cookie cutter did you use?

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